Wellesley Blue swimmer Dorothy Ren ’16 has been a strong force on the swimming and diving team since her first year. Since breaking the school record in the 100-meter individual medley in 2012, Ren has gone on to earn multiple NEWMAC All Conference awards. Most recently, Ren wrapped up the 2014-2015 season by being named to the NEWMAC All Conference Second Team for her performance in the 100-meter backstroke at the conference championship. Her time of 57.50 earned her second place and an NCAA B-cut. The San José, CA native recently sat down with the Wellesley News to discuss her start in swimming, the individual and group dynamics of the team and her goals for senior year.
Sravanti Tekumalla (S.T.): When did you start swimming?
Dorothy Ren (D.R.): I started swimming when I was like three or four, and I started competitively swimming at age seven or eight, so I’ve been swimming for a while.
S.T.: So what made you want to swim in college?
D.R.: For Division III swimming, I was really targeting the academic experience over swimming, so I was trying to decide between a lot of UC [University of California] schools and Wellesley. UC is DII, if not DI, and there, I would have spent a lot more time swimming and not as much time focused on my academics, and I really value that at Wellesley, so that’s why I ended up coming over here. That’s why I chose swimming at Wellesley, as opposed to swimming at another school.
S.T.: That’s really interesting to hear. How have you found being a student-athlete at Wellesley? What’s that experience been like?
D.R.: It’s actually been really nice. I found that as long as you develop a good relationship with your professors and show that you are on top of things and you don’t slack off, they’re more than willing to help you out with something, like when a week-long swim meet happens. Like for NEWMACs last week, we left Thursday at two and didn’t come back until Sunday at 11:30, and there’s no time to study. Last year, I had two midterms and a paper due the next week, but after I talked to some of my professors, they were really understanding, so it’s actually really, really nice.
S.T.: So shifting gears to more swimming-related things, you’ve become an All-NEWMAC swimmer for three events now. What would you say has been the highlight of this season for you?
D.R.: Puerto Rico is always a highlight, which is when we go on our training trip and it’s doubles [double practices] every day. It’s definitely physically hard and mentally hard, just because you’re in so much physical pain, but being around the team for thatlong I think is the main part of where we bond the most… Wintersession and Puerto Rico, [we] were stuck together for a whole month -—
S.T.: A whole month! Wow.
D.R.: — Yeah, and it’s a long time, but it’s definitely worth the struggles that happen because you really clarify things between people and people get to know each other better. In terms of competition, I would say every time we rally together and if it eventually results in beating another team we really wanted to beat, that’s great, but I feel like the MIT invite we had in December, and our dual meet against Tufts, we really, despite not having rested for the meet per se, we still swam our hearts out, and that kind of energy, if one person does it or the first relay does it, translates to the meet, and it’s really cool to see people working off that energy.
S.T.: So just to clarify, do you normally swim relays or do you swim individual events and relays?
D.R.: I definitely swim individual events, and relays come with each swim. So normally, I do three individual events and one relay. At NEWMACs, it’s different; I swim three individual events, hopefully trial finals, and then three, maybe four relays.
S.T.: Is there one that you enjoy more than the other? Do you enjoy individual swimming over relays or vice versa?
D.R.: It’s definitely different, so the vibes are different. When you swim individually, your goal is to get in as high of a place as possible; one, for yourself, to be like, “Oh, I got second place,” but also to score points for your team. So there’s a little bit more mental pressure on yourself, because you want to do really well. In terms of relays, they’re obviously more fun because you have three other teammates with you and you have a lot of adrenaline going and you want to swim well for these three people who, together, create something that we can all cheer for, and that’s pretty awesome, too.
S.T.: So to wrap up, you have one season left at Wellesley. Do you have any goals for your senior season and what are you looking forward to for next year?
D.R.: It’s hard because the season just ended last week, but thinking about it, I missed the nationals cut this year, so next year, hopefully that’s going to be something that happens… What’s really interesting is that the team dynamic shifts year to year because we have incoming freshmen and seniors that graduate. I’m not really sure about the incoming freshmen, but I know that three of the seniors that graduated this year — obviously, I’m a junior, so I’ve swam with them for three years — we’ve gotten really close, so it’s up to my class, which is actually quite a bit larger, with seven or eight people, to step up next year and see how that team dynamic changes along with the first-years. So that’s always really fun to see how the team navigates based on that. Other than that, I think the goals we’ve set for ourselves this year were really high, and we managed to accomplish a lot of them, which is awesome.